Billionaire Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, makes a surprise visit to cut the ribbon on the company’s Austin campus.

By Laura Lorek
Publisher of Silicon Hills News

Billionaire Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, said he expects Austin’s Oracle campus to grow to about 10,000 employees in coming years.

“We are going to have a handful of hubs in the United States,” Ellison said. “Austin is one of the key places we want to be because that’s where we think our people want to be.”

Ellison made the remarks during a surprise visit to cut the ribbon on the new Austin Oracle campus Thursday. The first 560,000 square foot building and parking garage opened to employees in January and already has more than 2,000 employees with a capacity of 2,500 employees.

“We bought all this real estate and we’re not done yet,” Ellison said. “We think this is a phenomenal facility to house fantastic people that hopefully will come to Oracle whether they are experienced or right out of college and be able to develop their careers, learn new technologies and grow as the company grows.”

Oracle, based in Redwood Shores, Calif., is going through its biggest growth phase in its history and is hiring lots of people, Ellison said. Oracle is also building a big facility in Santa Monica. It always seeks to build near water so employees can go rafting or kayaking during their lunch hour, Ellison said.

“I think this facility is going to grow to about 10,000 people,” Ellison said. “We have big plans.”

During a real estate tour to scout for the location for the Austin campus, Ellison recounted a story about how he refused to get out of the car to look at property in Cedar Park. He told them he only wanted to look at properties in downtown Austin near the water. The real estate brokers told him there was only one property. It turned out to be the property on Lady Bird Lake that is now the home of the Oracle Waterfront Campus at 2300 Cloud Way.

At the building site, Ellison decided immediately he would take the property and the adjacent 295-unit Azul apartment complex that was under construction. It is now a housing option for employees.

“This is Texas. In California, the prices here are like free,” Ellison said. “You buy one home in California, Mark’s home, actually, it costs about the same as this.” (Mark Hurd is Oracle’s CEO who also accompanied him on the real estate tour and was at the ribbon cutting Thursday.)

Ellison bought all the commercially zoned property nearby. They ended up buying up 43 acres. Ellison said they were on the property about a half an hour and bought it all.

Oracle Austin Ribbon Cutting, photo courtesy of Oracle

“Oracle is expanding in Austin to attract, hire and train the best talent to support the unprecedented growth of our cloud business,” Oracle’s CEO Hurd said. He also has an office at the Austin campus.

At the event on Thursday, Ellison cut the ribbon on the facility with Hurd and other dignitaries. Then Oracle held a party with food trucks, beverages and games for its employees and invited guests. It featured bands Black Joe Lewis and American Authors.

Downs Deering, senior vice president of Oracle giving a tour of Oracle’s new campus with a view from the fifth floor balcony.

Earlier in the afternoon, Oracle held a VIP reception and gave tours to media and other invited guests of its new facility.

“You have so many people who live in the area that can walk or bike to work,” said Downs Deering, senior vice president of Oracle Digital Application Sales, during a media tour. He’s been in Austin off and on since 1993 and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and he previously worked at Dell for 15 years.

Oracle’s cafeteria

Oracle is working to create an inviting experience for its employees with veranda views of the lake, an onsite full-service cafeteria, gym and free parking for its employees, Deering said. On-campus amenities include a food truck court, expansive business training and conference center, game rooms on every floor, terraces and outdoor collaboration areas. It also has beach volleyball and basketball courts, flag football field, B-cycle station and access to Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail.

Oracle is creating the modern-day company town with apartments nearby for employees. The employees at the Austin campus focus on creating digital applications and sales. Also, Oracle recently announced that Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator’s first U.S. residential program will be located in Austin.

During the tour, Oracle showed off its Cloud Solutions Hub with demonstrations of augmented reality, virtual reality applications to oversee manufacturing operations, intelligent bots and blockchain technology for healthcare applications like tracing pharmaceutical drugs.

Deering also showed off the training rooms for new hires who get up to 200 hours of training before they start their jobs at Oracle.

“They get continuous training afterward,” he said.

Oracle is also bin-free at the desk and doesn’t provide employees with garbage cans, Deering said. It is encouraging employees to recycle. They must take their waste to a central location for landfill, recycle and composting, he said. And it’s cashless at the cafeteria and the on-site Starbucks too, he said.

Oracle hires from 24 of the top universities in the country, Deering said. It hires a lot of communications, marketing, and business graduates to become sales associates, he said. At their desks, Oracle gives them a University pendant to put on their wall. In Texas, Oracle primarily hires from UT, Texas A&M, Baylor and Southern Methodist University, Deering said.

The managers don’t have offices, Deering said. They have desks on the floor with the sales representatives. They can go into offices along the wall which Deering referred to as “huddle rooms” for conferences. And each floor has a local theme that highlights “aspects of Austin’s culture including local art, music and murals.”

The balcony on the fifth floor provides expansive views of the city and Lady Bird Lake. The work area feature lots of natural light and an entire wall of glass that provide views of the lake and downtown.

Break room on the fifth floor

Facebook Live video of Ellison speaking to the crowd at the Austin Oracle campus ribbon cutting.